Basingstoke was fortunate during the World War II to suffer very little bomb damage in comparison to other Hampshire towns.

Initially, the German Air Force, Luftwaffe, was instructed to target industrial and military areas around the coast but later in the war, bombing was increased inland and churches and residential areas were added to the list of targets.

On August 16,1940, eighty years ago next weekend, Basingstoke was attacked by German bombers.

Bombs descended in the afternoon as the town’s residents were leaving work. Church Square and Church Street were hit by three bombs and at least eight people were reported killed.

St Michael’s Church and the Methodist church were both badly damaged, along with the rectory grounds in Church Street.

Only one window remained intact in St Michael’s Church and the Methodist church had to undergo extensive restoration.

Churches weren’t the only buildings to suffer on that deadly day in 1940. Another bomb fell onto houses in Burgess Road causing extensive damage and one loss of life and the windows of the Basingstoke Museum were all blown out.

Then hosted in the Mechanics’ Institute Building, the museum, which is now the Willis Museum on Market Place, was forced to close until repairs could take place. Unfortunately, repairs didn’t occur until three years later in 1943, when the museum was able to re-open for just two hours each afternoon for a number of years.

The attack of August 1940 - at the height of the blitz, was the biggest the town experienced during the whole of World War II but was not the only one. Other damage from bomb attacks during 1940 in Basingstoke included Southend Road, Brambley’s Grange and areas on the outskirts of the town.

One school which suffered during the blitz was St Vincent’s School in Cliddesdon Road. On October 24, 1940, it was hit by a bomb, killing one person. Luckily, the children were not inside the school at the time.

As a result of the increased bombing in Britain, both public and private air raid shelters were built across the county. Public shelters were generally used by residents of multi-storey buildings and also sometimes by schoolchildren, although some schools cloakrooms were turned into temporary shelters with anti-blast devices in the form of brick walls in the centre of the room.